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Jon Scheyer ready to hit the ground running on the post-Coach K era at Duke

coach k
Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Among the rules in sports, specific to coaching, is, you don’t want to be the guy following the legend. There aren’t many bigger sports legends than Coach K, which means, you don’t want to be Jon Scheyer.

Scheyer, 34, who won a national championship as a player at Duke, and was on Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching staff for nine years, was Coach K’s surprise handpicked choice to be the next man up.

And he gets it – that there’s a load of pressure on his shoulders.

“On the visit, we were talking about narratives and pressures and stuff, and not doing things for the media or for the fans, and he was like, Dude, you don’t think that I have the most pressure in the world to do what Coach K did? I don’t care. I’m here to win,” said Jacob Grandison, a grad transfer from Illinois, one of four grad transfers that Scheyer has on campus for the 2022-2023 season.

Long considered an ace recruiter, Scheyer landed another top-ranked recruiting class for his first season in the big chair, highlighted by five-stars Dereck Lively, Dariq Whitehead, Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell.

That’s a lot of new guys – a total of seven freshmen, four grad transfers.

Just one guy on the roster played rotation minutes in 2021-2022, the returning starting point guard, Jeremy Roach.

With all the new faces, Scheyer is focused at the outset on just getting everybody to know the guys around them.

“We have our Brotherhood CEO program where we’ve put them in positions where they’ve had to talk to one another and getting to know about each other in a different way. I think that set us up well, for now as we get on the floor and start developing roles and who can do what and how to play together, that base of a friendship, but also the trust is there,” Scheyer said.

In terms of x’s and o’s, insiders are saying Scheyer wants to tweak things to emphasize passing, cutting and flow on the offensive end, and having guys on the floor who can play multiple positions on both ends.

“We might share some similarities here and there, like all being able to shoot a play around the perimeter, post up,” said Filipowski, a 6’11” center. “We are all interchangeable, and we all play through one another as well. It’s just because of everything we’re all capable of we’re able to adapt to one another’s games, and that’s what makes it so special.”

“Jon has a new way of thinking. The way we are going to play on both ends of the floor, you know, some similar things, but it’s definitely different than what I’ve been a part of my four years back with Coach,” said Chris Carrawell, another Duke Basketball alum and assistant under Krzyzewski who was promoted by Scheyer to serve as his associate head coach.

One thing that will be clearly different will be that, Scheyer is not Krzyzewski personality-wise.

“He’s kind of like Tom Brady-esque. He’s pretty calm, even though it’s a pretty fast-paced environment he’s in. It calming to see him be very calm as at a new position,” Grandison said.

The question about Scheyer that we won’t get the answer to probably well into the season, if not even further down the road: can he coach the uber-talented kids he is able to pitch on playing at Duke into being winners?

“When your aspirations and goals are as high as ours, there is always pressure,” said Amile Jefferson, a former Duke player who served as director of player development under Krzyzewski for one year before Scheyer added him to the coaching staff in the summer.

“Every year I’ve been here, either as a player or pivoting on the staff now as an assistant coach, our goal remains the same … it’s to win a national championship. When you’re trying to have success at that high of a level, there’s always pressure. I think everyone knows it and feels it, and we accept it. Not only do we accept it, but we embrace it. The biggest thing for us is meeting that challenge and finding ways to keep our guys focused.”

Chris Graham

I write books, two on UVA basketball, one on pro wrestling, one on politics, which is getting to be like pro wrestling more and more each day. I've finished three marathons, but my maranthoning days are over. I'm also a progressive who voted for Biden, but we need another Democrat in 2024. (Sorry, Joe, and thanks.) Want to reach me? Try [email protected]